1. University of Virginia
  2. Arts & Sciences

Linguistics Anthropology Seminar -- Fall 2015

Thursday, September 24, 7pm (Brooks Hall 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Saul Schwartz, Department of Anthropology, University of Virginia

"The Afterlives of Endangered Languages: Reflections from Chiwere"

If predictions of unprecedented language loss over the coming century prove true, then growing numbers of indigenous and minority language communities around the world may find themselves without speakers but continuing nonetheless to curate distinctive legacies of linguistic heritage drawing on diverse methods, goals, and forms of social interaction. In this talk, I discuss the symbolic "afterlife" of Chiwere, a Native American language whose last fluent speakers died in 1996. I show how practices of language documentation and revitalization imbue Chiwere with social and cultural value even after it has ceased being spoken as a language of everyday communication. I describe a number of ways that community linguists invest Chiwere with significance through processes of entextualization and recontextualization, focusing on orthographic choices, speech genres, and translation strategies. These technical and discursive practices seek to exploit opportunities and avoid dangers presented by the multilingual context in which Chiwere documentation and revitalization necessarily take place. I conclude by considering alternatives to my constructivist interpretation of the cultural importance of language as an emergent social accomplishment. These alternatives are ultimately rooted in contrasting culture concepts and language ideologies that reflect diverse perspectives among practioners and constituencies on why endangered languages should (or should not) be preserved and how documentation and revitalization should be carried out.

Saul Schwartz is Visiting Instructor in Linguistic Anthropology in the University of Virginia's Anthropology Department this Fall. He has just completed his dissertation at Princeton University on the sociocultural dimensions of Siouan language documentation and revitalization. He also writes on disciplinary cultures, collaborative methods, material culture, and Native American histories.


Wednesday, October 21, 7:30pm (Brooks Hall 2nd Floor Conference Room)

Marty Richardson, Department of History, University of North Carolina -- Chapel Hill

"More Than Words and Tunes: The History of Haliwa-Saponi Powwow Singing and Tutelo-Saponi Language Use"

This presentation will provide a brief history of Haliwa-Saponi powwow drumming and singing traditions and discuss the impact Powhatan and Tutelo-Saponi language revitalization has had on contemporary Haliwa-Saponi powwow and cultural life. Haliwa-Saponi drumming and singing traditions began in the 1950s during a time of trival reorganization and socio-cultural reclamation. The tribe's drumming and singing traditions grew through intertribal sharing and the adoption of the Plains powwow structure. During the mid-1980s Haliwa-Saponi singers desired to compose original songs as a way to gain legitimacy in the powwow circuit and as a way to express themselves through song. Haliwa-Saponi researcher and cultural leader Arnold Richardson discovered Algonquian Powhatan and Siouan Saponi word lists and began using those words and phrases in his own original powwow compositions as part of the first Haliwa-Saponi drum group, Shallow Water. My personal discovery of the more richly documented Siouan Tutelo language led to more frequent use of the language in songs and an effort to teach the new language to tribal members and others who would like to learn. Since 1992, the Tutelo-Saponi language has been an integral element in Haliwa-Saponi cultural revitalization and tribal representation. More than words or tunes, songs made in the Tutelo-Saponi language have helped guide Haliwa-Saponi efforts at intertribal sharing, recognition, and expression. The Tutelo-Saponi language has been shared with members of other tribes, who have also adopted Tutelo-Saponi as a language of cultural expression. I will provide an analysis of several powwow song texts and demonstrate the progression of language learning, use of Tutelo-Saponi grammar, and innovation. I will also discuss the meaning and inspiration of Tutelo-Saponi songs -- powwow songs are used to honor individuals, communicate with dancers and others, or provide history lessons.


Marty Richardson (Haliwa-Saponi) is a PhD candidate in History at UNC-Chapel Hill. His dissertation, Racial Choices: The Emergence of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe, 1835-1971, examines the history of Haliwa-Saponi identity formation and the politics of tribal recognition. Richardson has been learning Tutelo-Saponi from archival documentation and has been a leader in the Tutelo-Saponi language revival movement. He is a founding member of the Stoney Creek Singers and incorporates Tutelo-Saponi language into the group's songs. His linguistic and anthropological research focuses on Tutelo-Saponi language in Haliwa-Saponi song composition, and the role of powwows in Haliwa-Saponi social and cultural life. He has an M.A. in History from UNC-Chapel Hill, an M.A. in Anthropology from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a B.A. in American Indian Studies from UNC-Pembroke.